Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Ms COURTNEY
Yesterday you announced you would be tabling a bill to ban the sale of ice pipes in Tasmania. As Health minister have you considered the health impacts of this at all? The Australian Government's Department of Health website says that the most common route of administration for ice is by smoking. The alternative is injection. Injection of any illicit drug, including ice, carries increased risks of addiction, overdose, infectious disease transfer and vein collapse. As well, the sharing of pipes, which is more likely if you ban the supply, increases the risk of transferring infectious diseases.
A program in Vancouver, Canada, for example, distributes crack pipes in a similar fashion to our needle and syringe exchange program. That has resulted in a significant decline in health problems associated with smoking crack.
How can you justify this decision as the Minister for Health? Will you back down from tabling that bill and instead commit to rolling out a health program similar to the one that is working to save lives and cut health costs in Vancouver?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Quite frankly, I am appalled that the Greens have come into this place advocating for ice pipes to be distributed amongst our community. That is just appalling.
Dr Woodruff - Are you crazy? You're the Health minister. This is evidence.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, discipline, please.
Ms COURTNEY - All members in this House know the impact that ice and other illicit drugs have on their communities. This Government -
Ms O'Connor - You're talking to a scientist.
Dr Woodruff - Harm reduction - the cornerstone of Australia's health policy.
Madam SPEAKER - Order.
Ms COURTNEY - This Government makes absolutely no apologies for sending a very clear message to the community that illicit drugs are not okay. As a government we have done a number of things legislatively to ensure we send that strong message to the community and to those people who want to peddle drugs. We want our communities to be kept safe. That is why this side of the House took this policy to the election, which was endorsed by the people of Tasmania.
Greens members interjecting.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. Ms O'Connor, warning one; Dr Woodruff, warning two.
Ms COURTNEY - The misuse of illicit substances is a very important issue in our community. That is why I am pleased that we are going to be delivering on this election commitment. We know the harm drugs are causing in our community. Like many other jurisdictions Tasmania has generic drug paraphernalia possession offences. However, it is one of only two jurisdictions that does not have specific offences relating to restricting or prohibiting ice pipes in resale or wholesale settings. This is why we are taking clear action to better align our laws regarding illicit drugs and reinforcing the very strong message to Tasmanians that ice is illegal, highly addictive and very dangerous.
We also know that drugs cause significant harm, which is why we are funding more resources into this sector to address the scourge affecting the lives of Tasmanians. The Hodgman majority Liberal Government is providing extra funding of $100 000 a year over two years to trial the 24hour, seven-day-a-week, 10-bed residential rehabilitation program for women. This funding is on top of recurrent annual funding of $91 000 for the Velocity Transformation men's program which provides a 12-bed residential facility for men based in Moonah. This is on top of the announcement made last year for an extra $6 million over three years for 31 more community-based alcohol and drug rehabilitation beds across the state. This includes the north-west, where we have seen an extra 12 beds open since January this year alone through the delivery of the new $4.2 million dedicated rehabilitation services facility.
Madam Speaker, we understand the impact that illicit drugs has on communities, which is why this side of the House is taking clear action to ensure that those people who have substance abuse challenges are supported to be able to get the help they need while sending a very clear message to retailers, wholesalers and the entire community that drugs are not okay.